If there is one thing I’ve learned from living in various states, it’s that each area has their own “local grocery store”. For instance, my home town in Arkansas had a placed called Jades, my college town had a store called Brookshires, and my home town in Kansas has a grocery store called Hen House. In Lacey, WA there isn’t a “local grocery store”, or if there is I haven’t found it yet, but instead I shop at Fred Meyers. Fred Meyers isn’t exactly a small store; it’s pretty big and has a lot more than just groceries. But regardless of size, all of these stores had some type of “rewards/discount program” that allowed customers to sign up for a free account in order to acquire points or be eligible for discounts. And out of all of these reward programs, Fred Meyers leaves somewhat of a bad taste in my mouth.

Now it doesn’t have anything to do with the rewards or with how the points are allocated. But rather with what happens when you use it and when you don’t use it. When you use the rewards card at the self-checkout, the machine announces, “Welcome valued customer!” When you don’t use the card at the self-checkout, the machine doesn’t say anything. As if to say, you aren’t valued as a customer if you don’t use their reward card. I know it seems silly, but I’ve been reading a lot lately about businesses providing good user experiences. I guess you could argue, “So what? It’s just a stupid program.” Well, allow me to play a quick “What if?”

What if instead of a machine saying, “Welcome valued customer!” it were the actual cashier. That way some people would be told by another person, “Our company values you” and others wouldn’t. Still seem trivial? Perhaps, but I feel the little things like that can make a big impact on a person’s experience at a store. So with that in mind, here is what I think Fred Meyers should do or what I would do given the chance to switch things up a bit.

First of all if they have to have an auditory prompt notify the customer the card has been activated; they should go the route of Hen House. When a Hen House card is swiped the machine says, “Hen House account activated!!!” (Yes when I hear that audio I visually see three exclamation points). This way Fred Meyers is simply letting the customer and other know, the rewards card is working.

Another thing they could do is when a customer begins the checkout process the machine could say, “Welcome valued customer” this way EVERYONE is greeted the same way. In addition to this the above paragraph could be used in correlation with this solution.

Now, I’ll leave it up to whoever reads this. Do things like the audio prompts Fred Meyers is using matter or does it not make a bit of difference?

Comments (8)

  1. Like you said, Josh, it seems trivial, but from a marketing/sales standpoint, I’d say it’s anything but. Someone probably figured that the average customer would either not pick up on it, or would just shrug it off as inconsequential. I wouldn’t be surprised if they even thought that if anyone got their nose out of joint from not being welcomed, it might entice them to apply for an account.

    Personally, I see it as a major gaffe. If you want to do something extra for your “special” customers, that’s fine, but you’ better be damned sure it can’t be construed as doing something less for your “not-so-special” customers. Subconsciously, most will pick up on it, and it’ll probably leave that same taste in their mouths as it did yours.

  2. This store is amazing since the eco-remodel and visually stunning. Whomever is doing the displays in the outer produce section is quite talented. The parking is a god damned free-for-all demolition derby waiting to happen, the employees all have that 1000 yard stare that screams.

    • LOL. Umm yeah there is also that 🙂

  3. Josh,
    I thought I was the only one who noticed those things. I also thought it was nit-picking on my part and splitting hairs. When I see a sign “If you are a member, you get VIP service” I think, since I am not a member, I will be treated like garbage, for sure. It makes me less likely to sign up for membership. The beauty of capitalism – there are other grocery stores in the area.

  4. That is just rather amusing Josh. Well, I wanna say I couldn’t agree with you more. They should at least try to be consistent to every customer they have and treat each one as their “valued customer”. I’ll be disappointed too if I was in your place.

    • I was kinda laughing at myself too after I finished writing this. Glad you enjoyed it.

  5. I personally think the idea of having a sale that only “signed up” customers can take advantage of is bunk. When the stores started this I felt they were alienating valued customers. However, I realized they just wanted to know every single item I purchase and how much of it I purchase and what time of year I buy it. I sometimes wonder if they are feeding this info to the government. I suppose I should stop while I am ahead (the government will probably read this and step up their efforts to track me!)
    BTW the good “local grocery” is Ralphs Thriftway. It is just too far a drive to go to Olympia to shop for groceries. Mega foods and Grocery Outlet are also top on the list.

  6. LOL, I shop at fred meyers and have noticed that too and think its pretty funny. The best part is the crappy voice over work. If they really valued me they should give me a random discount on every 12th purchase or something.